By Tim Harper for Toronto Star, November 20 2015: OTTAWA—For rookie Liberal MP Arif Virani, his government’s ambitious plan to resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees — and the backlash it has engendered in the wake of the Paris massacre — is personal.
The new MP for Parkdale-High Park can thank Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s father, Pierre Trudeau, for his life in this country, an experience that began at a Montreal YMCA as his family arrived in a strange, frigid land with only two suitcases.
Virani was only 10 months old when he was bundled up as the family fled the brutal dictatorship of Idi Amin.
The Liberal government of the day accepted 7,000 Ismaili Muslim refugees, expelled from Amin’s Uganda, in a 90-day blitz that marked the first refugee effort of its kind from a non-European country.
From that room on Peel Street, Virani’s path took him to Toronto’s Flemingdon Park, then Willowdale, then McGill and the University of Toronto.